This is the future of talent

Yesterday I attended the Future of Talent Conference with the IPA. It was a spot on conference that looked at how are we addressing the talent needs of businesses across the advertising, media and digital agencies. The presentations gave a very good sense of what is currently happening in this space and what this means for the future of businesses in this space.

27% of all ad spend in the last week was spent in the digital space. Source – Google.

£60 billion was spent on online retailing in 2010. Source – Google.

Traditional ICT subjects taught at school are not equipping school leavers for working in these industries – MS Office does not give you the skills to be creative or innovative. Source – Eidos.

Only a handful of primary schools, secondary schools and universities truly recognise the need to give their students education in subject areas such as coding and design. Source – Eidos.

To work in creative technology, the dream graduate would have a blend of Maths, Physics and Art.

These are some of the findings presented from yesterday. Interesting, don’t you think? The CEO of Eidos, Ian Livingstone, kicked off the presentation by letting us know how his company is campaigning government to allow Computer Science to be a core part if the National Curriculum as an option for students at GCSE level. He sees and has found that the attention we give to this subject is highly wanting in the industry. The workforce don’t typically learn the skills they have now until they either leave formal education, or have finished formal education and decided their skills lied elsewhere. There weren’t any figures on what this number looks like, but you get the sense that we really are doing ourselves a disservice when we can’t even recognise that the rising digital industry demands a rethink of the skills being taught at schools.

Southampton University came on to talk about their courses which try to tackle this perception of not learning the right skills. Their students are taught art, design and coding. Blending these together is becoming the new need. Although not always practical in business, it is certainly a step in the right direction. At the moment, the best businesses recognise that you have to now take a mix of experts, create a harmonious relationship and allow them to produce their work.

Surprisingly, Google came to the conference and gave a presentation on how they nurture talent in their company. Mark Howe, MD of Agency Operations in Europe. Aside from the values that Google hold, some key things stood out for me. Their mission statement was clear and to the point. Simple, and you could see that no matter which part of the business you were in, you knew how you were part of that. We’ve all heard about their 20% innovation rule, and that’s an impressive thing to maintain when you’re the size of Google (20,000 people).

A company called Creative Process came and talked about how they are trying to help school leavers get apprenticeships within businesses. I was truly inspired by what these guys do. They provide 100 hours of training for their apprentices, source them for you, you interview them, and select who you think is right for your business. You have to give them a 12 month contract and an annual salary of up to £14500. Don’t forget we’re talking about school leavers, not graduates. They recognise that there are opportunities aplenty for school leavers but they haven’t got the right path to get in there.

And the second company I was very impressed with were someone called SEO London (Sponsors for Educational Opportunity). The company started in the US and saw that black and ethnic minorities were not getting the same opportunities to apply for roles in big accountancy, law, banking firms as if you were white and middle class and from certain educational backgrounds. These guys find the best from that group and present them to these companies, and have a 80% success rate of getting them permanent positions in these companies.

And finally Skillset were showing how they are leading the way in lobbying government to make educational reforms, but also including how to ensure training and development available to all in the creative industry is at a high quality and level.

Lot’s of food for thought with more to follow later.

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Sukh Pabial

I'm an occupational psychologist by profession and am passionate about all things learning and development, creating holistic learning solutions and using positive psychology in the workforce.

6 thoughts on “This is the future of talent”

  1. Thanks for sharing the info. This is a topic I’m particularly passionate about. The government really needs to wake up to the digital reality and look at not just what technology is taught in schools but how is it done as well.

    1. It’s a good point Matt, and Nesta presented yesterday too which I left out from above as they didn’t say anything too different as they produced the report for Eidos. From that though, they found that school teachers skills in ICT/Computer Science are lacking themselves and effectively they don’t know what they don’t know. Only one primary school was highlighted where they use a program for kids to write the code for and design their own version of a game.

      Beyond that, there was much talk about how marketing professionals themselves aren’t learning the skills they need in order to operate in this space at university. But a boy attending Code Camp in San Diego at the age of 13 knows more about coding and marketing and the mix of social media than they do.

  2. Thanks for the notes, Sukh. As Matt says, very useful and big implications for education and employers. When will we start to act on a bigger scale, not just in a handful of employers and schools/colleges?

    1. I think the biggest barrier is that the creative industry/services aren’t given enough prominence even though they know account for a significant portion of the nation’s GDP. I forget the figure and didn’t write it down, but there is a clear need for the curriculum to have more subjects added to it which are relevant to future skills.

      There is a caveat to this all, and that is yesterday was quite specifically talking about the creative technology industry in its broadest sense.

  3. Thank you for this most excellent summary Sukh, and we’re glad to hear you enjoyed our event yesterday 🙂

    Matt and Martin, great to hear your thoughts. And to that end, we’d like to invite you to find out more about the programmes that we’re putting in place to drive our ‘Future of Talent’ agenda. You can find out more here: http://www.ipa.co.uk/content/Fresh-talent-key-to-UK-ad-industry-growth

    The challenge is turning talk into action and we have got to start somewhere, right? 🙂

    For reference, we’ve also uploaded the presentations from yesterday’s conference, so please do feel free to take a look: http://www.ipa.co.uk/content/Defining-the-future-of-talent-skills-connections

    We’re always happy to hear your thoughts – come and talk to us @IPA_Updates

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